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2019 Expression of Interest guidelines for Fast-Start and Standard applicants

Detailed information on the preliminary funding round for Standard and Fast-Start proposals

Also available as a PDF: 2019 EOI Guidelines FS and STD

See also, information on Proposals On-Line, and EOI round (Fast-Start and Standard):

On this page:



The Marsden Fund operates a yearly funding cycle and makes an annual call for applications in November / December.

Marsden Fund Council

The Marsden Fund Council, appointed by the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, makes decisions on Marsden Funding. The Council consists of eleven eminent researchers spanning a range of disciplines.

To assist the Council, ten discipline-based assessment panels make recommendations on the proposals in their area of research. See pages 9-10 for a full list of panels and their definitions.

Marsden Fund Council Mission Statement

“To drive world-class research in New Zealand by supporting and incentivising excellent researchers to work on their best and boldest ideas and to connect internationally, leading to new knowledge and skills with the potential for significant downstream impact for New Zealand”.

Award Categories


Maximum amount per year (ex GST)





Up to 3 years

Two stages: February (EOI) and June (Full)


Varies by panel  - see “Project Size”, p13)

Up to 3 years

Two stages: February (EOI) and June (Full)

Marsden Fund Council

$1 million

Up to 3 years

One application stage ONLY: Full proposal due February.

Two stages of assessment by Council.


There are three categories of proposals available for the Marsden Fund:

Fast-Start: For emerging researchers, capped at $100,000 per year for up to three years. Two –stage process, with an Expression of Interest to be submitted by the February deadline. The EOI consists of a one-page abstract of proposed research, CVs plus supporting information. Assessed by discipline-based panels.

Standard: Open to all eligible researchers, amount of funding is flexible and is capped. These are larger than Fast-Start applications. Funding can be sought for up to three years. Two-stage process, with an Expression of Interest to be submitted by the February deadline. The EOI consists of a one-page abstract of proposed research, CVs plus supporting information. Assessed by discipline-based panels.

Marsden Fund Council Award: Open to all eligible researchers. Larger than Standard grants, up to $1 million per year for up to 3 years. One-stage application process, with a full proposal to be submitted by the February deadline. Assessed in a two-stage process by the Marsden Fund Council. See separate guidelines for more details.

These guidelines pertain to Fast-Start and Standard proposals ONLY. Applicants wishing to submit a Marsden Fund Council Award proposal should consult the separate 2019 MFCA Guidelines for Applicants.

Funding Deadlines

The deadline for all EOIs is 5:00pm (NZDT) Thursday, 21 February 2019. Research Offices and private applicants will be advised by 10 May 2019 of the success of EOIs.

Proposals On-Line

All Marsden Fund proposals should be submitted on the Proposals On-Line web-based portal.

Researchers should write their proposals directly into this portal using the forms and templates provided.

Researchers who submit proposals through an institutional co-ordinator should contact their Research Office for log-in details for Proposals On-Line. Independent researchers and researchers from small institutions should contact the Marsden Fund (marsden@royalsociety.org.nz or 04-470 5799) to obtain their log-in details.

Separate instructions for using Proposals On-Line are available on the portal. However, the guidelines provided here should also be referred to as they contain background information about the Fund and what information is expected in each section of the proposal.

Changes for 2019

  • There will be no combined panel trial for 2019.
  • New: For Vision Mātauranga: If N/A is ticked, there will is a small comment box on the portal to briefly explain your rationale.
  • Personal declaration section on the portal is now called Terms and Conditions; wording slightly altered

Information on Applying

Information on making applications is available:

2019 Marsden Fund Timetable

Early December 2018

Application forms and guidelines available

February 21, 2019

Closing date for EOIs and Marsden Fund Council Award proposals

April 8-18

Assessment Panel meetings

May 8

Marsden Fund Council meeting

May 10

Invitations for Full Proposals sent to applicants (Fast-Start and Standard); notifications of Stage 1 outcome sent to Marsden Fund Council applicants

June 19

Closing date for Full Proposals

July 31 – August 1

Marsden Fund Council meeting and workshops

August 14

Referees’ reports available from web portal (for applicants and panellists)
(note that inevitably some reports will come in after the deadline)

Sept 16-27

Assessment Panel meetings

October 16

Marsden Fund Council meeting

TBA: Approximately early November

Results announced

Marsden Fund Objectives

The Marsden Fund invests in excellent, investigator-led research aimed at generating new knowledge, with long-term benefit to New Zealand. It supports excellent research projects that advance and expand the knowledge base and contributes to the development of people with advanced skills in New Zealand. The research is not subject to government’s socio-economic priorities.

The Marsden Fund encourages New Zealand’s leading researchers to explore new ideas that may not be funded through other funding streams and fosters creativity and innovation within the research, science and technology system.

The primary objectives of the Marsden Fund are to:

  • Enhance the quality of research in New Zealand by creating increased opportunity to undertake excellent investigator-initiated research; and
  • Support the advancement of knowledge in New Zealand, and contribute to the global knowledge base.

The secondary objectives of the Marsden Fund are to:

  • Contribute to the development of advanced skills in New Zealand including support for continuing training of post-doctoral level researchers, and support for the establishment of early careers of new and emerging researchers.
  • Contribute in the long-term to economic, social, cultural, environmental, health or other impacts for New Zealand

Note: Impact will be monitored at the level of the whole Fund over a long timeframe.

The full Terms of Reference, last updated in 2017, are on the Marsden Fund website: https://royalsociety.org.nz/what-we-do/funds-and-opportunities/marsden/about/tor/

Eligibility Criteria

The Marsden Fund is fully contestable and is open to applicants who meet the Fund’s eligibility criteria. The criteria are determined by the Marsden Fund Council. Eligibility to apply for funding as a contact Principal Investigator is restricted to New Zealand-based researchers. The research should be carried out in New Zealand, except in cases where its nature demands that it be carried out elsewhere.

For Standard applications, “New Zealand-based,” for researchers who have overseas appointments, has been defined by the Marsden Fund Council as being employed in New Zealand for 0.5 FTE (or more) per year. However, Fast-Start applicants must be employed entirely in New Zealand for the duration of their grant.

If an applicant is a panellist, they cannot apply to the panel on which they are sitting, either as a Principal Investigator or as an Associate Investigator.

Definition of Principal and Associate Investigators

Principal Investigators (PIs) are researchers who lead the research, contribute the main ideas and are responsible, with their institution, for the achievements of the objectives and the management of the contract.

Associate Investigators (AIs) are researchers who play a lesser role than Principal Investigators and may only be involved with limited aspects of the work. These can include, for example, cultural advisors.

Mentors (Fast-Start applications only) are people who should play a role in advising the PI on various aspects of project management, career guidance and professional development; they should not have a scholarly input into the proposed research (if they do, they should be listed as AIs instead). Mentors should ideally be based at the applicant’s institution. CVs are not required for mentors.

Collaborators providing a service may be named in the Roles and Resources section; no CV is required for them.

Number of Proposals per Person

For each annual funding cycle, eligible applicants must:

  • Be involved in no more than ONE proposal as a Principal Investigator per funding round (assuming no exclusion – see below)
  • Be involved in no more than TWO proposals in total per funding round; either as a Principal Investigator on one and an Associate Investigator on another, or as an Associate Investigator on two proposals.

This applies across all categories of grants; for example, if an applicant is a Principal Investigator on a Marsden Fund Council Award proposal, they cannot be a Principal Investigator on a Standard proposal in the same funding round.

Principal Investigator Exclusion Rule

Researchers cannot be a Principal Investigator on more than one Marsden Fund grant at a time. If successful as a Principal Investigator in a particular funding year, the researcher will be excluded from applying for another Marsden Fund grant as a Principal Investigator for the next two funding years. The exclusion period is not affected by any approved contract time extensions. This applies across all grant categories.

Any Principal Investigator who is excluded by this rule in any particular funding round may still apply as an Associate Investigator on a maximum of two proposals. For Standard proposals, the maximum FTE is 0.05 per year; for Marsden Fund Council Award proposals, this restriction on AI FTE time has been removed.

For example:

A Principal Investigator who was awarded a Marsden Fund grant in 2017 will not be permitted to apply as a Principal Investigator to the Fund in 2019, but will be permitted to apply in the 2020 round.

A Principal Investigator who was awarded a Marsden Fund grant in 2018 will not be eligible to apply as a Principal Investigator in 2019 or 2020, but will be permitted to apply in 2021.

A Principal Investigator who was awarded a Marsden Fund grant in 2016 is eligible to apply in 2019, even if the 2016 contract has been extended past its original completion date.

Assessment Criteria

The key assessment criteria are:

  • Proposals must have the potential for significant scholarly impact* because of the proposal’s novelty, originality, insight and ambition
  • Proposals must be rigorous, and should have a basis in prior research and use a sound research method
  • The research team must have the ability and capacity to deliver
  • Proposals should develop research skills in New Zealand, particularly those at the post-doctoral level and emerging researchers

Where relevant to the proposal:

  • Proposals should consider the relation of the research to the themes of Vision Mātauranga and, where relevant, how the project will engage with Māori.

*Scholarly impact is a demonstrable contribution to shifting understanding and advancing methods, theory and application across and within disciplines.

The cost of the project is not considered until the full proposal stage. Once the overall grades and rankings have been determined, the cost of each proposal is then considered with a view to each panel funding the top ranked proposals up to the overall level of funds available.

All proposals funded must:

  • Comply with the terms and process of any government policy or directive; and
  • Be consistent with the nature and objectives of the Marsden Fund and the criteria set out above.
  • Applications to the Fund must meet each individual criterion to the satisfaction of assessors to be considered for funding.
  • Once assessors are satisfied that a proposal meets each criterion individually, they will score the proposal based on a holistic assessment across all relevant criteria and relative to other proposals being considered by the panel. Proposals with an inspirational, exciting and compelling research goal that transcends the sum of the individual assessment criteria are likely to score more highly in this process.
  • The ‘ability and capacity to deliver’ criterion will be judged relative to opportunity, with career achievements assessed in the context of career history, allowing for breaks for family or other responsibilities. Where applicants already hold a Marsden contract in a related area (especially follow-on award applicants), performance on this will also be considered as evidence of ability, but existing award holders will not be privileged versus new applicants because of this.

How the new criteria will be assessed

  • Applications to the Fund must meet each individual criterion to the satisfaction of assessors to be considered for funding.
  • Once assessors are satisfied that a proposal meets each criterion individually, they will score the proposal based on a holistic assessment across all relevant criteria and relative to other proposals being considered by the panel. Proposals with an inspirational, exciting and compelling research goal that transcends the sum of the individual assessment criteria are likely to score more highly in this process.
  • The ‘ability and capacity to deliver’ criterion will be judged relative to opportunity, with career achievements assessed in the context of career history, allowing for breaks for family or other responsibilities. Where applicants already hold a Marsden contract in a related area (especially follow-on award applicants), performance on this will also be considered as evidence of ability, but existing award holders will not be privileged versus new applicants because of this.

How to Apply

Applicants should register their intent to submit an EOI, with the following information: name of contact Principal Investigator (with all initials), type of proposal (Fast-Start or Standard), and panel the proposal is being submitted to.

The final date for registration of intent will be determined by Research Offices in each institution. Note that the Marsden Fund does not have a deadline for registration, and does not require Research Offices to notify the Fund of registrations. Institutional applicants will be registered by their co-ordinator, or, if there is no co-ordinator, by the Marsden Fund administration.

The strict deadline for submission of proposals is 5:00 pm (NZDT) Thursday, 21 February 2019.

After the panels and Council have considered the EOIs, a number of applicants will be invited to make Full Proposals with a strict deadline of 5:00 pm (NZST), 19 June 2019. The results of the final allocation process will be announced in early November 2019 (date to be confirmed).

It is not intended that any pre-selection of applications should occur within proposers’ institutions but researchers must ensure that any proposal they submit has the approval of their research institute or other employing agency, where appropriate.

Panel Definitions

A broad, discipline-based assessment framework is used. This framework is as follows:

Biomedical Sciences (BMS) – research related to human health and disease in: biochemistry, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, molecular biology, genetics, cell biology, microbiology; neurobiology (including animals as a model species for humans); human genomics and related bioinformatics.

Cellular, Molecular and Physiological Biology (CMP) – studies related to understanding the activities that occur in cells and tissues, and their integration within living organisms across the biological, agricultural and veterinary and biochemical sciences. This includes: plant physiology; animal physiology; biochemistry; cell biology; plant and animal genetics; molecular biology and molecular genetics; functional genomics and related bioinformatics; microbiology excluding microbial ecology; animal and plant pathology.

Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour (EEB) –studies related to the interrelationships between organisms and their environment, evolution and behaviour. This includes: animal, plant and microbial ecology; biogeography; biodiversity; molecular ecology; phylogenetics; systematics and evolution; population biology and genetics; animal behaviour; physiological plant ecology; biostatistics and modelling.  Note that proposals seeking to establish the molecular basis of processes or traits are better sent to CMP or BMS panels, unless they materially concern the evolution of those processes or traits.

Economics and Human & Behavioural Sciences (EHB)– including: economics; psychology (experimental, cognitive, neuro-); cognitive science; cognitive linguistics; archaeology; physical anthropology; business studies; commerce; management studies; marketing; communication science and demography.

Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences (EIS) – including: fundamentals of engineering (biomedical, bioprocessing, civil, chemical, electrical, electronic, environmental, materials, mechanical and robotics); and cross-disciplinary research relating to engineering.

Earth Sciences and Astronomy (ESA) – including: geology; geophysics; physical geography; oceanography; hydrology; meteorology; atmospheric science; earth sciences; astronomy and astrophysics; also cross-disciplinary topics which include substantial components in some of these areas.

Humanities (HUM) – including: English; languages; history; religion; philosophy; law; classics; linguistics; literature; cultural studies; media studies; art history; film.

Mathematical and Information Sciences (MIS) – including: pure mathematics; applied mathematics; statistics; operations research; logic; computer science; information systems; and software engineering.  Note that all computer science proposals should be sent to the MIS panel.

Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry (PCB) – including: materials science; physics; chemistry; biophysics; chemical biology and structural biochemistry.

Social Sciences (SOC) – including: Māori studies; indigenous studies; sociology; social, developmental, organisational, community and health psychology; social, cultural and human geography; social anthropology; education; urban design and environmental studies; public health; nursing; public policy; political science; socio-linguistics; architecture.


The Fast-Start programme is targeted at researchers who are employed at New Zealand universities, Crown Research Institutes and other research organisations, and who are trying to establish independent research careers and create research momentum. This programme is intended for people early in their research careers. It is not intended for those who have already developed research careers but have only recently gained their PhD degree. The applicant should be involved in their own independent research, and not merely be part of a larger group’s research programme.

It is not mandatory for an applicant to have a permanent position, but the host institution must agree to employ the applicant for at least the duration of the grant, and in a position that allows them to develop an independent research career.

Researchers wishing to submit a Fast-Start application may apply for up to $100,000 per year (GST exclusive) for research programmes lasting up to 3 years. The purpose is to support excellent research by promising individuals and to give an impetus to their careers by promoting them as sole Principal Investigators in their own research programmes. While linkages with established researchers as Associate Investigators, both within and outside New Zealand, are useful and encouraged, the emphasis for this funding is on individual researchers in the early stages of their careers.

The application process, timetable, selection criteria and assessment are the same as for a Standard Marsden proposal, apart from one of the selection criteria (the contribution to the development of broadening of research skills in New Zealand, particularly those of emerging researchers), which is considered satisfied for these applicants. The distribution of successful applicants across research areas will be decided by the Marsden Fund Council. Note that the Fast-Start applications are ranked separately from the Standard applications.

Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria for this programme, but who wish to apply for larger grants, should submit a Standard proposal.


Applicants for a Fast-Start grant must have a PhD degree, or an equivalent NZQA level 10 qualification.  Recent graduates must have completed all requirements for conferment of their PhD by the closing date for EOIs.

Other than the completion of a PhD, the criteria for eligibility depend on the way in which a researcher’s career has developed prior to applying.  

Track A: If the researcher has proceeded straight from their undergraduate or Masters studies to their PhD studies before taking up employment in a research-related position, then to be eligible to apply for this programme a researcher must:

  • Have not previously been a Principal Investigator on a Marsden Fund contract, and
  • Have completed their PhD no more than 7 years ago.

Track B: For researchers who took up employment in a position that involved a component of research before commencing their PhD studies, then to be eligible to apply for this programme a researcher must:

  • Have not previously been a Principal Investigator on a Marsden Fund contract, and
  • Have commenced their research career no more than 10 years ago (including the time taken to undertake their PhD studies).

In both instances, time spent on sickness leave is excluded from the year count.

Please note that parental leave is not excluded from the year count, as this is accounted for separately in the eligibility extension for dependent children - see below.

Other non-research-related activity is included in the year count.

For the 2019 funding round, researchers who have been engaged in research since the completion of their PhDs (Track A), eligibility for Fast-Start funding is restricted to those who have been awarded their PhD at any time since the beginning of 2012 (or within the equivalent of 7 years’ experience). For those who obtained their PhD after commencing their research careers (Track B), eligibility is restricted to those who began working in 2009 or later (or within the equivalent of 10 years’ experience).

The eligibility period for Fast-Start grants may be extended under the following scenarios:

  • In addition to any excluded time spent on sickness leave, applicants who have had part-time employment, for example as a result of ongoing childcare responsibilities – with the prior approval of the Marsden Fund – will have their seven years’ experience calculated pro rata for the year count.
  • Eligibility may also be extended to take into account any career interruptions experienced due to being the primary caregiver for young children. If the applicant is the primary caregiver of a dependent child, the applicant is able to extend the period of eligibility by two years per child. The extension of two years per dependent child is inclusive of any periods of parental leave. There is no maximum identified.

For someone who has had a career interruption due to primary caregiver responsibilities for young children born since their PhD was awarded (Track A) or since the start of their research career (Track B), an extra 2 years per child is added on to their eligibility.







Eligibility timeframe

Eligible if PhD awarded anytime since…

Eligibility timeframe

Eligible if research career started anytime since…

Baseline eligibility

Within 7 fulltime years of PhD awarded

Beginning of 2012

Within 10 fulltime years of start of research career

Beginning of 2009

1 child

9 years

Beginning of 2010

12 years

Beginning of 2007

2 children

11 years

Beginning of 2008

14 years

Beginning of 2005

Example 1 (Track A):

For someone who gained their PhD in 2011 and worked fulltime for 2 years, followed by sick leave for 1 year, followed by working for 4 years at 0.5 FTE, their years of experience would be 4 – making them eligible to apply.

Example 2 (Track A):

PhD awarded beginning of 2005; fulltime work for 4 years, parental leave for 1 year (primary caregiver for 1 child), employed at 0.5 FTE for 2 years, parental leave for 1 year (primary caregiver for a 2nd child), employed at 0.6 FTE for 4 years:                                   


a)      Years of experience

  • Fulltime work for 4 years                                  4
  • Parental leave for 1 year                                   1
  • Employed at 0.5 FTE for 2 years                        1
  • Parental leave for 1 year                                   1
  • Employed at 0.6 FTE for 4 years                        2.4

Total years of experience (a) =                                     9.4 years

b)      Eligibility window

  • Number of dependent children the applicant was a primary caregiver for:            2
  • Eligibility extension = 2 children x 2 years each                                                 4 years (x) 

Overall eligibility extension in fulltime years (b)  is x + 7 =                                           11 years

a) is less than b), so the researcher is eligible for Fast-Start.

Note that the career interruption can apply to any gender, and the researcher does not necessarily have to have taken parental leave. In the case of shared primary care, for example, if the mother was the primary carer for one year and the father the primary carer for the second year for a single child, that would mean that if each was a researcher applying for a Fast-Start grant they could each claim a career interruption. In another example, separated parents may have primary caregiver roles on a week on, week off basis and each be entitled to claim a career interruption.

Please refer to the Marsden Fund website for a career gaps calculator if you need some help with part-time calculations. This is a very useful Excel spreadsheet which calculates your years of experience for you.


If there is doubt about eligibility, applicants should contact their Research Office in the first instance. If in further doubt, please contact the Marsden Fund.

Any applicants who have had career interruptions due to being primary caregivers of dependent children should explain this in section 1e (Research Experience) of their CV.

Mentor (optional)

For Fast-Start applications, there is an option to name a mentor on a Fast-Start proposal, where no funding/FTE would be sought for that person. This person would play a role in advising the applicant on various aspects of project management, career guidance and professional development; they would not have a scholarly input into the proposed research. While CVs are not required for mentors, their expected contribution should be outlined in the Roles and Resources section. Mentors should ideally be based at the applicant’s institution.

If a researcher is to act as a mentor and also plans to have an input into the proposed research, they should be listed as an Associate Investigator instead. Any mentoring done by an Associate Investigator should be detailed in the proposal under the Roles and Resources section along with their other contributions. They should NOT also be listed in the “Mentor” category. CVs need to be supplied for any Associate Investigator, and FTEs sought for them.

A researcher can be entered on a Fast-Start proposal as a Mentor, or an Associate Investigator, but not both.

If Fast-Start applicants do not have an Associate Investigator on their application, it is advised that they have a named Mentor.

Vision Mātauranga

Vision Mātauranga is a policy about innovation, opportunity and the creation of knowledge that highlights the potential contribution of Māori knowledge, resources and people.



There are four themes:

  • Indigenous Innovation, which involves contributing to economic growth through distinctive research and development;
  • Taiao, which is concerned with achieving environmental sustainability through iwi and hapū relationships with land and sea;
  • Hauora/Oranga, which centres around improving health and social wellbeing; and
  • Mātauranga, which involves exploring indigenous knowledge.

Please note that Vision Mātauranga is now included as an assessment criterion:

Proposals should consider the relation of the research to the themes of Vision Mātauranga and, where relevant, how the project will engage with Māori.

For the EOI round, applicants indicate using a tick box whether or not Vision Mātauranga is relevant and, if so, which of the four themes apply – please refer to instructions for Section 3.

At the Full Proposal round, up to one additional page will be available for statements on Vision Mātauranga immediately following the description of research in Sections 2a-2c. This is to enable Vision Mātauranga to be more easily integrated into the conceptual framework and/or research design. Where Vision Mātauranga is appropriate to a proposal, it can contribute to the overall excellence.

Project Size (Standard Proposals)

Although the cost of the project is not considered until the Full Proposal stage, information is included here on what can be funded, as well as the maximum size of Standard Proposals. The Terms of Reference state that funds awarded are to cover the full costs of a proposal. Full costing includes direct costs, associated personnel costs and overhead costs. Please note that collaborating researchers from outside New Zealand are able to be included in proposals, but are not able to receive direct funding support for their time or institutional costs. However, costs associated with collaboration (i.e. travel and accommodation) may be covered under “direct costs”.

The Marsden Fund Council particularly wants to provide support for individual researchers in contrast to supporting large teams assembled to undertake programmes of research that could be supported by other funding agencies. The preferred types of projects are those from individuals or small teams, to investigate bright new ideas, involving the assistance of a post-doctoral fellow, research assistants or postgraduate students where appropriate.

The Assessment Panels and the Council also prefer to be in a position to fully fund the proposals they are evaluating where possible. Each panel works within a limited budget, and very large proposals can substantially affect a panel’s ability to fund projects at the full value requested. To overcome this, the Council has set a maximum amount per application, which differs between panels. There is no minimum. Note that the maximum is a strict cap. Amounts applied for may vary from year to year, as long as the average amount is no greater than the panel cap.

The maximum amounts are as follows:


Maximum amount per year (excl. GST)





















Please note that maximum amounts are exclusive of GST.

Other Funding

Applicants are asked whether they have sought any other funding for the Marsden-proposed research.

At the EOI stage, any applicants who have sought other funding organisation for a grant for the same purpose should provide the following information:

  • Name of funding organisation
  • Amount requested
  • Title

You may provide an explanation if you wish.

There is also provision to enter more than one instance of other funding, if required.  

It is appreciated that some applicants will apply to other funding sources, for the same work. This will not affect assessment of the EOI. Should the proposed research be funded by more than one funding agency, this will be followed up by the Marsden administration. Should applicants be invited to submit a Full Proposal, more details of funding sought or received will be required.

Format of Proposals

All proposals should be submitted via the Proposals On-Line portal using the prescribed document templates. These can be downloaded from the portal with the original format retained from the templates. The layout of the entire application is automatic for Proposals On-Line. The limit on space in all sections of the templates should be adhered to. The typeface should be 12 point, Times or of similar size font, single spacing (12 point), with margins of 2 cm on the left and 2 cm on the right side of the page. Instructions may be removed, but not the margins. No additional pages or attachments will be accepted other than where requested.

A hard copy of the last page of the proposal that contains the declaration page is not required. Instead, all contact Principal Investigators are required to tick a box on the portal to indicate their acceptance of the proposal declaration. For institutional sign-off, a single signature covering all submitted proposals is all that is required, and a form for this is available on the portal for Research Offices. For private individuals, the tick-box alone is sufficient.

IMPORTANT: Coloured images / text may be included in the Abstract section ONLY. Images are not permitted in CVs and the Roles and Resources sections. The guidelines on formatting must be followed. Failure to do so may result in the proposal not being considered.

Application Numbers and Panel Selection

When you register your proposal on Proposals On-Line, a unique application number will automatically be generated.

  • This consists of: 19-(Institution)-(Number).
  • The first two numbers refer to the year of application (2019). The institution is a three-letter abbreviation.
  • For example:     LCR – Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, UOW – University of Waikato.
  • The numbers are consecutive 3-digit numbers. Your number can be obtained from your institution’s Research Office.
  • Private individuals or researchers need to contact the Marsden Fund for their application number.

You will need to select the category of proposal: Fast-Start, Standard, or Marsden Fund Council Award.

For Fast-Start and Standard applications, select one of the ten Marsden panels to assess your proposal, using the three-letter panel abbreviation as listed on pages 8-9. It is not possible to apply to more than one panel. If you are unsure which panel to apply to, please seek advice from your Research Office. If there are any queries from panel convenors about panel choice, this will be followed up with the applicants.

The information entered will appear automatically at the top of each page of the application form, along with the name and initials of the contact Principal Investigator (see notes on “Contact Person and Principal Investigators” below).

Example (Standard Proposal) for Dr A.B. Jones:



Contact PI’s surname




Application Number





Application Section by Section

Section 1a. Title

The title of your proposal should be descriptive, in plain English, and no more than 25 words in length.

Section 1b. Contact Person, and Principal and Associate Investigators

For Fast-Start proposals there shall be only one Principal Investigator who will also be the contact person. For other proposals it is possible to name more than one Principal Investigator in the case of partnerships or other sharing of responsibility for the project. However, one should be nominated as the contact person for the proposal and all correspondence between the Marsden Fund and the proposers must be directed through the contact person. Administrative contact on the research proposal is through the institution’s Research Office. Private applicants may sign as their own host.

Fast-Start applicants should also include the title of their PhD thesis and the name of their supervisor(s) in the spaces provided.

Please note that all PIs, AIs (and Mentors if applicable) on each proposal will need to confirm their own contact details via an individual URL, which will be emailed to each person after their email address has been entered into the portal by the contact PI. Each individual person will therefore be able to provide their own FOR codes, contact details and statistical information, and give consent for their involvement in the proposal, without a requirement for the contact PI to provide details.

ORCID: For 2019, there is a facility in the "People" section of the portal for each named investigator to add or create an ORCID ID. An ORCID ID is preferred for all named investigators, but is not mandatory.  Please click on the "Create or Connect your ORCID ID" button on the top right of the "Contact Details" section and follow instructions.

Statistical information (gender, ethnicity, years since PhD) provided by the applicants will not be shared with panellists or referees.

All named PIs and AIs are requested to provide up to five Fields of Research (FOR) codes about their own research interests and expertise. A list of codes will be available on the portal, and can also be referred to at:


Each named person on the proposal will be required to agree to the “Terms and Conditions” section on the portal to give their consent to be named on the proposal.

Section 1b and Use of Personal Information

The Royal Society Te Apārangimaintains a database of researchers. This information is used for such purposes as finding experts in particular fields and advising people of upcoming events relating to specialist fields of interest. The database is not available to people outside the Royal Society Te Apārangi. Please signify your permission to be included in this database by ticking the “Allow RSNZ to use Contact details” box under the contact details in section 1b of the proposal.

Section 1b should contain the title, first name, first and middle initials, and last name of all Principal and Associate Investigators, and also a contact email address for all investigators. Please note that although contact details of all investigators are required, only the contact details of the contact Principal Investigator and names of all other investigators will be displayed when previewed as a document on Proposals On-Line. It is important to list all Principal and Associate Investigators, including those based overseas, as new Principal and Associate Investigators cannot be added at the Full Proposal stage except in extraordinary circumstances.

For Fast-Start researchers, an optional “Mentor” category is present in Section 1b. No CV or FTE input is required for Mentors, but their contribution must be outlined in the Roles and Resources section. Mentors will also be requested to enter their contact details on the portal.

Section 1c. Fields of Research

Please enter up to THREE 6-digit codes, using codes that are as specific as possible. For a list of codes, please refer to the Field of Research Calculator at:


Please also give key words or key phrases of no more than 255 characters in total, in a single list (separated by commas or semi-colons; please avoid using the return key). This information will be used to assist the process of finding referees and also to provide data for a strategic report on funding.

Section 1d. Summary

Please describe in up to 100 words the nature of the proposed research. This should be in plain English and should cover the following items: What is the state of the field? What does the applicant want to do? How will the applicant do it? What is the broad outcome expected to be?

The summary will be used for two purposes: i) for the panellists as an introduction to the proposed research; and ii) as an aid for finding appropriate referees at the Full Proposal stage.

As the summary will be sent to potential international referees to enable them to decide whether they have the relevant expertise, it should not contain any commercially sensitive information, and it should be a stand-alone description of the proposal.

All parts of Section 1 (a, b, c, and d inclusive) should not exceed 1 page in length when previewed as a document on Proposals On-Line.

Section 2a. Abstract

The abstract is a one-page description of the proposed research. The description is expected to include the aim or hypothesis, or element of discovery, and the research proposed, explaining the importance of the research and providing information that will allow the Marsden Fund Council to make a judgement based on the listed criteria. The proposed research must be confined to the page allocated. If diagrams, images or footnotes are being used, they must be contained within this page. References should be listed separately (section 2b). Typeface should be 12 point, Times or of similar size font, single spacing (12 point), with margins of 2 cm on the left and 2 cm on the right sides of the page. The guidelines on formatting must be followed. Failure to do so may result in the application not being considered.

Colour images and /or diagrams may be included in this section. Footnotes may also be included.

There is a limit of one page for this section when previewed as a document on the portal. Users of Macs are advised to check the length of their abstract by uploading it to the portal, as the length may change slightly. 

Section 2b. References

Section 2b is for references associated with the abstract. It is important to support the application by means of references. Please ensure that these are not restricted or limited to the applicants’ own work. Applicants are also requested to:

  • Ensure that the references have been published, so that they are readily accessible when the proposal is being assessed.
  • Bold any applicants’ names if they appear in the reference list.
  • Include titles of each reference.

There is a limit of three pages for this section when previewed as a document on Proposals On-line. This section does not include the use of footnotes; it should contain a list of references only, rather than further explanation of ideas covered in the abstract.

Section 2c. Roles and Resources.

In this section, briefly outline the contribution that each team member will make to the proposed research. This should include AIs, mentors, post-docs, and postgraduate students (if any), regardless of the FTEs sought. This section should illustrate that the project has the personnel to manage the expected workload of the project, to ensure its smooth management, and to deliver results.

Clearly state the resources required for the proposed research that the team will have access to. This is an opportunity to discuss the practical requirements of your proposed research. For example: Access to libraries/collections/archives; access to required instruments/equipment/techniques; ability to do fieldwork (e.g. site access, assistance etc.); access to pools of participants.

Please note that if applicants will require logistical support from Antarctica New Zealand for their proposed research, this should be signalled at the EOI stage in this section. Applicants will be required to engage with Antarctica New Zealand and document this engagement in the Full Proposal.

Fast-Start applicants will need to provide evidence for how the proposed research will support their independent research careers. Discuss opportunities for your career development, and be clear on the role of any mentors or AIs (if applicable).

If the proposed research will require ethics approval, please use this section to convince the panellists that you have thought through all the relevant issues of your research and its possible implications (in the Full Proposal, there is a separate section, 2h, for details of ethical or regulatory obligations – for example, child protection policies if working with children).

Do not describe the background and expertise of the team in general terms, or use the section to extend the Expression of Interest and further describe your research.

Section 2c should not exceed one page in length when previewed as a document on Proposals On-Line.

Section 3: Vision Mātauranga 

Proposals should consider the relation of the research to the themes of Vision Mātauranga and, where relevant, how the project will engage with Māori.

Where research projects are of relevance to Māori or involve Māori, the Marsden Fund Council expects that applicants are in consultation with Māori at the planning stage, so as to achieve the best possible outcomes.

If unsure about the relevance of the proposed study for Māori, researchers should consult their institutional advisor. For the guidance of applicants, the relevance does vary according to panel. Examples of relevance could include proposals that involve biomedical research of significance to Māori health, social research, educational research, entrepreneurship, indigenous research, natural hazards, native flora and fauna, anthropology, the environment, sporting and cultural activities, literature, and language (even if the approach to these topics is seemingly irrelevant, such as algorithm development, biochemical pathways or mechanical properties).

In this section, Principal Investigators should identify which, if any, of the four Vision Mātauranga themes, can be associated with the proposed research. Please note that more than one box may be ticked. If none apply, please tick N/A. The themes are:

Indigenous innovation: Research that utilise distinctive products, processes, systems and services from Māori knowledge.

Taiao: Research that furthers environmental sustainability by engaging with local hapῡ and iwi and their researchers and initiatives.

Hauora/Oranga: Improving Health and Social Wellbeing.

Mātauranga: Exploring Indigenous Knowledge.

NEW for 2019: If N/A is ticked, there is a small comment box on the portal to briefly explain your rationale. Panellists will be looking for affirmation that applicants have considered whether or not their proposed research has Vision Mātauranga theme(s). If you feel that Vision Mātauranga does not apply to your proposed research, please state this here. Consultation is not a requirement, however if you have received feedback from your institution that VM does not apply to your proposed research, please state this here.

Section 4: Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) of Personnel

The time that each member of the research team will spend on the proposed project should be listed in the table in section 4, and filled in for each year of the planned research. The contribution of all personnel must be included as a fraction of their full time workload. For example, if the Principal Investigator were to commit one day per week to the proposed research this would be expressed as 0.2 FTE. Please note that the absolute minimum combined time for all Principal Investigators on Standard proposals is now 0.1 FTE per year. This is designed to provide flexibility in special cases. However, the Marsden Fund Council expects that sufficient Principal Investigator time be allocated to carry out the project successfully. The minimum time for a PI on a Fast-Start proposal is 0.2 FTE per year.

Please note that overseas investigators cannot have their time or institutional costs paid for by Marsden.

Post-doctoral researchers (Standard Proposals only) or postgraduate students can be included in the research team. Summer students may also be included under the “postgraduate student” category if required.

Post-doctoral researchers may be part-time or full-time on a Marsden proposal.

Postgraduate students can be supported on Marsden proposals on a fixed-rate basis. This is currently set at $27.5k scholarship per year, plus fees (New Zealand resident rates) for PhD students or $17k scholarship plus fees (New Zealand resident rates) for Masters students. These figures assume the postgraduate students are assigned to the research on a full time basis.

For summer studentships, please check with your Research Office for guidance on stipends.

For both Fast-Start and Standard Proposals, projects may be supported for up to three years. The funds should be used to support the proposed research and researchers.

Section 5: Curriculum Vitae and Publications

A CV should be completed for each named applicant, up to a maximum of five pages (see instructions below). CVs are not required for students, technicians, mentors (on Fast-Start applications) or un-named post-docs, but are required for any post-docs named on the proposal. No photographs are permitted on CVs. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the HRC and the Marsden Fund use a similar template, which largely standardises the type of information asked for. Please follow these guidelines, which are included with the CV template on the portal. This template allows you to maintain your own master CV, from which you can draw on when submitting a research proposal.

Please note: sections 2b, 2c, 2d of the standard template are relevant only to MBIE proposals and have been deleted from the template on the portal. The template allows you to expand/reduce sections as you see fit.

Part 1

1a.          This section is for personal details. It identifies who you are and where you can be contacted most readily. A space is provided for your own personal website about your research (optional).

1b.          You should list your academic qualifications in this section.

1c.          You should list the professional positions you have held in this section.

1d. You should briefly describe your field of expertise in this section.

1e.          Please list your total years of research experience in this section, excluding periods away from research.

You can describe any significant interruptions to your research career in the text box underneath section 1e – for example, parental leave, illness, administrative responsibilities. This can be expanded to include eligibility extensions in the case of Fast-Start applicants who have had career interruptions due to being a primary caregiver for dependent children. The information included here should give an idea of research relative to opportunity.

1f. This section is for significant achievements, including, but not limited to, honours, prizes, previous grants, scholarships, memberships or board appointments.

1g. This section is to record the total number of peer-reviewed publications and patents you have produced during your career. Only peer-reviewed or refereed publications, or patents should be counted in each section.  Books should be listed separately in this section.

Part 2

2a.          This section lets you list some of the peer-reviewed publications you have produced and that are relevant to your proposal. Recognising that research dissemination occurs other than through peer-reviewed publications, this section also lets you list other forms of research dissemination, such as technical reports or popular press. Please only include publications that are either published or in press. Submitted articles should not be included.

You should bold your name in the list of authors and include names of all other co-authors (up to 12).

You should bold the year of the publication if it was published in thelast 5 years. For 2019, applicants should bold the year of publication from 2014 onwards only.  

In total, your CV must not be more than five pages long when submitted.This allows up to two pages for personal and work history information in Part 1, and up to three pages for evidence of track record in Part 2. All instructions in italics should be deleted before you submit your CV.

  • Note that the list of publications should include all publications relevant to the proposal; these are not limited to publications from the previous 5 years.

For book chapters or volumes, please give page numbers and also names of publishers.

For any published books, please indicate the number of pages for each book.

Please note that page limits are the same for each named person on the application.

Section 6: Declaration of Other Funding Sought

If you have sought other funding for any part of the proposed research, please fill in the details required. Note that there is no longer a tick box. There is also now an option to add more than one instance of other funding.  

Section 7: Declaration Page

All contact Principal Investigators should read the proposal declaration page and check the tick box on Proposals On-Line to “sign off” the proposal.  

Referees (Fast-Start and Standard applications)

Referees are not contacted at the EOI stage but if you are invited to submit a Full Proposal then the Marsden Fund Council will appoint referees. The Marsden Fund Council will endeavour to get at least two, preferably three reports for each Full Proposal.

If there is any person whom you do not wish to referee your Full Proposal, please state this, providing reasons, in a communication provided to the Society on letterhead. The latest date to receive referee exclusion notifications is within one week of receiving the invitation to submit a Full Proposal – i.e. before May 17th 2019. The number of people that can be excluded as potential referees is strictly limited to three.

Statistical Information and Use of Personal Information

The Marsden Fund Council encourages applications from all members of the New Zealand research community. To monitor the profile of different groups within Marsden funding and identify funding trends and gaps, the Council would appreciate applicants providing the information requested in the “Statistical Information” section relating to each applicant on the portal.

This information will only be available to Society staff, and will not be seen by either panellists or reviewers. The data will be used by the Marsden Fund administration for statistical purposes only, and personally identifiable information will not be shared with third parties without your authorisation.

In order to evaluate, and assess the long-term impact of our activities, we will keep an electronic record of the information we hold about you indefinitely unless you request that your private data be destroyed.

If you want to verify, modify, correct or delete any private data, you should apply to the Society's Privacy Officer <privacy.officer@royalsociety.org.nz>.

For “Gender”, there is a “Gender Diverse” category in addition to Male and Female.This is in line with guidelines and categories used by Statistics New Zealand.  See http://www.stats.govt.nz/methods/classifications-and-standards/classification-related-stats-standards/gender-identity.aspx for further information.


Because of the very large number of EOIs received, the Marsden Fund Council is not able to give specific feedback to applicants about individual proposals except in the following situations:

  • The proposal is considered unsuitable for Marsden funding
  • The applicant is considered ineligible to apply for Marsden funding
  • The applicant is considered ineligible to apply for Fast-Start funding

Unsuccessful applicants and institutions will be told:

  1. Their proposal’s score relative to all others considered by that panel, successful and unsuccessful, expressed as:
  • First quintile (best proposals)
  • Second quintile
  • Third quintile
  • Or ‘Not ranked’ (Includes fourth and fifth quintile proposals because assessors do not rank these precisely)


  1. The percentage of all proposals considered by that panel which progressed to the Full proposal stage.

The Council expects to continue its pilot process from 2018, where detailed feedback was given to Fast-Start applicants who were unsuccessful but close to the cut-off for proceeding to the Full Proposal stage.

A general statement about the funding round will be prepared and given to all applicants.


Proposals should be released via Proposals On-Line. Hard copies are not required.

For institutions, a combined declaration covering all proposals must be signed and submitted by the deadline below. The combined declaration can be downloaded from Proposals On-Line and after signing, is then submitted via the portal.

All proposals need to be released via Proposals On-Line no later than 5.00pm, Thursday 21st February 2019 (NZDT).

Marsden Fund Contact Details

Postal Address:                                                                                
The Administration Officer
Marsden Fund
Royal Society Te Apārangi
PO Box 598         

Courier Address:
The Marsden Fund

Royal Society Te Apārangi

11 Turnbull Street
(Phone: 04-470 5799)


For general information on the Marsden Fund, please see our website: